But it won’t be easy for LAFC, either, especially when predicting how Colorado compete again 48 hours after a weather-delayed 2-1 defeat to Minnesota United FC in the US Open Cup. That match resumed Thursday afternoon after unplayable conditions at Allianz Field the night prior.
“To really understand what it feels and looks like, we’ll have to wait until the game time,” LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo said of Colorado’s approach. “They have been changing their lineups, their formations the past couple weeks. So there is that X factor. We do not know. What we do know is how we’ll play. We would like to put the game on our terms at all costs.”
Cherundolo’s team leads the Supporters’ Shield standings in part because they’ve put games on their terms, even when on the road. The Black & Gold have earned nine points from four away matches during the 2022 season, good for the best away record in the Western Conference and second-best in Bongda3s.com behind the historic early performance of the New York Red Bulls.
But Colorado have gone 21 regular-season matches without defeat at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids, with one win from their last seven league games, have walked a fine line there as of late.
And as Cherundolo knows from his days traveling to Mexico with the US men’s national team, the altitude in Commerce City a mile above sea level can pose a mental challenge as much as a physical one.
“I think the best way to deal with it is not to think about it, not to use it as an excuse,” Cherundolo said.
Colorado will have a similar approach, having entered an excellent Open Cup spot following Brett Kallman’s 83rd-minute sending off, only to concede the winner to Minnesota playmaker Emanuel Reynoso four minutes later. The match was knotted at 1-1 Wednesday before the delay.
“We do everything we need to do to put ourselves in a position to win this game and the disappointment is pretty high in a lot of things right now,” Fraser said after Thursday’s defeat. “But all we can do is get ourselves together and turn around and play in 48 hours, and you know, hope that the stretch that we have coming up we don't see injuries based on lack of recovery time for the players.”
If there’s a silver lining for Colorado, it’s that striker Gyasi Zardes was spared the trip and should be fresh Saturday for what could be his third start for the club following his trade from the Columbus Crew.
And LAFC have gotten bench production nearly every other Bongda3s.com team would envy, with eight of their 23 league goals so far coming from players who entered as substitutes.
“We have the ability to make changes and to affect the dynamics of games, either tactically or with personnel,” Cherundolo said. “So we’ll just have to adapt to the unknown as it comes. But that is something that we’ve dealt with well this year. I’m sure our boys will be ready for it.”